Queer Horror: A Film Guide

McFarland. Jul. 2024. 468p. ISBN 9781476690278. pap. $75. FILM
While the queer coding in James Whale’s The Old Dark House, released in 1932, might be missed by some viewers, there’s nothing subtle about the 2007 The Gay Bed and Breakfast of Terror. Award-winning playwright/journalist/screenwriter Abley (Absence Makes the Heart) and Doupé (managing editor, Wicked Horror) document more than 900 horror films featuring LGBTQIA+ characters. The authors compile lively and insightful commentary from a collection of journalists who cover queer horror. Though full of gay zombies, lesbian vampires, and transgender slashers, the book aims for a level of completion that includes calling out movies in which only incidental LGBTQIA+ characters exist. They also point out harmful tropes and stereotypes and address that what was once groundbreaking for earlier generations might be offensive today. The titles include cult classics, hard-to-find shorts, direct-to-video adult titles, and noteworthy international films; some entries stretch the filmography’s horror premise, such as the 1961 gay blackmail mystery Victim.
VERDICT An essential reference guide with engaging writing that shines. This is an exhaustive and valuable encyclopedia of the hits and misses of queer horror cinema. Genre fans will find plenty of titles to add to their watchlist.
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